Signs of Chemical Restraint Abuse in Nursing Homes
Caring for the elderly can be a very rewarding job, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its challenges. Regardless, our parents and grandparents deserve to be treated with the utmost care and respect in their vulnerable years. They depend on caregivers to meet their physical needs, and in some cases, their mental and emotional ones too. Most seniors take at least one prescription drug to treat or manage health conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, or depression.
Without stating the obvious, there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of prescription medication. While psychiatric or psychotropic medication is commonly used to treat mental illness, Medicare and Medicaid programs both prohibit chemical restraint, as does Washington State law. The potential for overuse and abuse as well as injury, harm, or death to the patient is just too great.
Chemical Restraint Abuse in Nursing Homes
A chemical restraint is a type of medical restraint where a drug is used to restrict the freedom or movement of a patient. In some cases, it is used to sedate a patient. If a nursing home in Washington State is found to have used chemical restraint to control or sedate a patient in their care, they could face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit that seeks compensation for victims or their families.
According to a Human Rights Watch report released in February, 2018, nursing homes across the United States “routinely give antipsychotic drugs to residents with dementia to control their behavior, despite rules against the misuse of drugs as chemical restraints.” The report also estimates that on any given week in U.S. nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people (mostly older residents with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia) are given antipsychotic drugs without an appropriate diagnosis. It is important to understand that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) never approved this category of drugs to treat symptoms of dementia and has warned against their use for these symptoms. Adding insult to injury, facilities often administer these drugs without obtaining informed consent from residents or their families.
If you believe that your loved one has been chemically restrained in a nursing home or other long-term care facility in Washington State, contact a Washington nursing home abuse lawyer for a free consultation. Bellingham nursing home abuse attorneys have experience standing up for the rights of our vulnerable elderly population; including against negligent chemical restraint.
Signs and effects of chemical restraint
Psychotropic drugs used without a diagnosis that justifies their use put nursing home residents at increased risk for injury, harm, and death. The FDA estimates that unnecessary antipsychotics are responsible for the death of 15,000 nursing home patients every year. Older patients are particularly at risk for adverse drug effects.
Some of the signs and effects of chemical restraint are the sudden or unexplained onset of one or more of the following symptoms:
- Inability to think or communicate clearly
- Impaired memory
- Agitation or anger
- Loss of interest in self-care
- Increased falling
- Movement disorders
- Loss of mental faculties
If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing elder abuse, report it immediately to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (call 1-866-363-4276) and then contact a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Seek the help of a nursing home abuse attorney
If your loved one has been injured as a result of abuse or neglect, you may be feeling overwhelmed with how to help them. Let an experienced nursing home abuse attorney help you fight for justice. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a good lawyer. Call the caring elder abuse attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!